Philadelphia Zoo’s massive holiday light show opened Wednesday night

The Philadelphia Zoo is celebrating the holidays by bringing animals from across the globe to light. A project 2.5 years in the making, LumiNature debuted Wednesday with 12 immersive displays and more than 600,000 lights.

“We wanted to continue to share the harmony and wonder of our planet through an entirely new media,” says Amy Shearer, the zoo’s chief marketing officer.

Visitors will find a 25-foot tree constructed of illuminated flamingo lawn ornaments, a neon-green snake formed into an archway, hundreds of festively colorful penguins, and a field of radiating oversize flowers.

There’s music to accompany each part of the experience, from holiday classics to orchestral takes on Lady Gaga. Many of the displays are interactive, such as a peacock-feather selfie station and a 35-foot-tall polar bear made of recycled car doors that shows nature scenes on its chest.

Guests can also sample seasonal fare and drinks, including hot chocolate and warming adult beverages, while watching strolling performers like stilt walkers and Poi stick artists.

The $3.5 million project is intended to return as an annual event.

LumiNature will be open through Jan. 5. Timed tickets (on the half-hour from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.) are on sale at and cost $24 for adults and $19 for children.